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Blog Entry-How Difficult Will It Be for The Worker to Mount a Claim for Covid-19?

Burdine & Brown May 20, 2020

When the China Wuhan virus began to rear its ugly head in Georgia, I saw it as a wonderful economic opportunity for insurance companies and their lawyers, the emissaries of “delay and deny” to fight every claim.

Just look at all the elements of proof the innocent injured/affected worker will have to overcome to have their contracted virus considered a job injury. For instance:

  • How long can the worker rely on the ER physician to certify disability?

  • When must the worker return to the Georgia panel of doctors to obtain treatment and disability status after an ER examination or hospitalization?

  • Is the exposure to Covid-19 solely due to exposure at work? Are they sure this disease was not transmitted through using MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit) buses and trains? What about family member exposure? What about at Publix, Kroger or at church? The list goes on without end.

  • Is there any permanent disability resulting in long term lung damage assuming the worker recovers? What if the worker smoked in his/her past? What portion becomes Covid-19 related? What if the worker is a current smoker?

Litigation takes time. The burden of proof for the worker will be extraordinary to overcome in these matters. I strongly suggest the Georgia Legislature modify the existing workers' compensation law on the issue of causation and burden of proof to place the entire burden on the employer/insurer to prove the Covid-19 virus is not the source of the worker's disability and that it did not originate from the place of employment. Even this change will still cause delay but it might find a larger percentage of employers and insurers who are willing to or compelled to forgo litigation and accept the claims of a worker who has contracted this awful Chinese Wuhan virus from their workplace.